Types of Asphalt Shingles

3 Main Types of Asphalt Shingles 101

So you had your eye on a new Pavatti… If you don’t know what a Pavatti is, stop reading and go get your eyes on one, mainly so that you can distract yourself from that growing yellow stain on your ceiling. It can’t be from the roof right? Maybe it’s just attic rain? You know, frozen water droplets or frost in your attic caused by poor ventilation and the accumulation of moisture in the attic, which then freezes during cold temperatures. Just in time for a warm spring thaw where the ice droplets rain down on you from the roof above. So you call your Edmonton roofing company, or maybe try out a new one you’ve seen around. Yet they tell you to turn down your humidifier and schedule your roof inspection to ensure proper ventilation. And then run your bathroom fan 30 minutes before and after your showers and baths. Make sure you use your kitchen exhaust fan while cooking. Handled, you've got this.

So after a few years, you finally got enough money for that new tiffany blue Pavatti. And a freak winter windstorm comes through and congratulations you already got money for the new roof that you d

idn’t know you needed. Love that for you. So what type of roof do you consider? You've already ruled out rubber, metal, clay, cedar and solar tiles. Assuming you don’t reside in an architecturally controlled neighborhood where your choice is made for you by the governing body. So you landed on the cult classic asphalt shingles, they are by far the most popular, versatile, simple to install and cost-effective choice. And the majority of shingle manufacturers provide a 30, 40, and higher costing 50 year warranty. Hold on there though, there are two types, organic and fiberglass. And before you rule out Organic

Types of asphalt shingles

Organic shingles have been around the longest, they consist of a mat made of recycled paper, or some other product made of wood component, impregnated with asphalt and compressed under high pressure. They are more flexible than their Fiberglass counterparts, making them easier to install in cold weather and tear resistant. Organic shingles are heavier and therefore more resistant to strong winds, they also withstand changes in temperature. Because of the flexibility organic shingles are more forgiving on older roofs, able to hide imperfections. Which because of the soaring cost of lumber and sheathing. This is definitely a win for the homeowner’s.

Fiberglass asphalt shingles have a layer of glass fibres instead of paper. They are referred to as composition shingles.They are lighter, because less asphalt is used during manufacturing. less expensive, more heat-resistant and the ''feet'', or notched ends, are less likely to lift, a problem often encountered on older roofs. Fiberglass apply less strain on your roofing system, and because the shingles have less asphalt, they are more environment-friendly! They also boast a higher fire rating. Go figure organic shingles are actually worse for the ozone and the environment.

Asphalt shingle components

Both types are composed of several layers.

  • Granular Surface Layer - Granules are those little colored specks that after the storm, or rain are the specks in your gutters, eaves lawn and driveway. They constitute the superficial layer of asphalt shingles, providing colour and UV protection. This granite-like coating comes from basaltic deposits, including basalt and rhyolite, which are not only hard and durable but opaque to keep UV rays from deteriorating the asphalt. Certain granules are engineered to reflect heat and keep roof temperatures cool. They may also contain additives to prevent mould
  • Asphalt Coating - Asphalt is the waterproofing agent applied during manufacturing which ensures protection. The thickness of the asphalt layer determines the weight of the shingle. Architectural shingles have two layers of asphalt, with a fibreglass mat in the centre
  • Mat or Base Layer - The material used for the mat/base differentiates the type of shingle. For organic shingles it is made of organic paper/wood variant saturated with asphalt, whereas the fibreglass shingles are reinforced with a fibreglass mat. This membrane acts as a frame, holding the other layers together. It is integral that it’s integrity does not waver or fault in different weather, it must be resistant and weather stable
  • Adhesive Tabs - Shingles come with heat-activated adhesive tabs. Never drive a nail through these adhesive tabs, which could prevent shingles from fusing or locking to the roof deck. It is also vital that the adhesive tabs seal in a timely manner to manufacturer’s specifications so that debris does not build up and cause the adhesive tabs to degrade and inability to efficiently seal one shingle to the next.
  • Nailing Strip - Varies by shingle manufacturer, giving some an advantage over others in cooler, cold, warmer and hot environments. Shingles must be nailed using an approved nail and not stapled, which makes them more vulnerable to cracks. Nail heads should be visible on the surface without being driven too deep.

Shingles are designed to work with other roofing components to create a complete weather proof system, which is why you want to choose a certified roofing company who has an up to date certification in good standing. This does not guarantee proper roofing practices but it helps to lower the chance that you will get an unwelcome surprise. Homeowners find out 5-10 years into their 40 years shingle life, that they received a lower grade roofing experience than initially agreed upon. Whether they found someone cheaper, they hired a family member or friend, or they didn’t properly vet the roofing company. Nobody wants to find out a quarter way into an agreement that they are not covered.

You probably wouldn’t let your father in law perform maintenance on your boat on the ground without adequate certification so why is he up on your roof? Insurance companies can dishonor coverage of your roof if damage or installation is proved to be as a result of negligence or insufficient experience. 


Additional Properties

  • Wind-Resistant - The combination of adhesive and nails provide shingles with wind-resistance. The majority of shingles can resist winds more than 100 km/h with regular installation, however certain types of shingles with high-wind installation provide protection and resistance to winds up to 220 km/h. Which is definitely beneficial when you have a new roof and you learn a new name for a winter storm, and less than two months later another winter storm comes through. 
  • Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) -Shingle manufacturers have been busy developing a more solar-reflective, and ensuring cooler attic spaces. The granular layer reflects the sun's rays without affecting roof-colour.

Where do we wind up? Well we still have to take into consideration a few of unique variables.

Roof slope

The slope or pitch of a roof dictates the type of shingles you should install. For a low-slope roof such as 2/12 to 4/12, 3-tab roof shingles are preferable, they tend to be of simple smooth texture. Low-slope roofs are more susceptible to ice and water problems such as ice dams, so better flow properties are important to consider. 3 tabs are cheaper and lower quality, with 2021 inflation many companies have all together stopped production of three tab, and most reputable roofing companies will not offer them. 3-tab have a lower life expectancy, lower wind rating and less warranty. With the halt in manufacturing 3-tab homeowners will be forced to replace their roof sooner, because of decreasing availability.

For an walk-able slope roofs over (more than 6/12 and 7/12) or high-slope roof (8/12 to 12/12), architectural shingles are recommended. because of the higher quality, wind resistance, and lack of snow, ice and water unable to sit as long. Architectural asphalt shingles are typically a higher quality, ranging from mid grade to high grade. They have more of a visual appeal due to their make up and texture. 

Asphalt shingles should never be installed on roofs with a slope less than 2:12 (8.5°).


The location or exposure in which your home is directed at does directly affect the health and lifespan of your shingles. 
There are a few things that you can do to prolong your roof's  life like installing downspout extensions, which keeps premature roof wear.
 Asphalt coatings on the shingles are vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation, the same type of radiation that causes skin damage, as well as housing material. The damage it does to shingles to warp, curl, run and deteriorate exponentially faster. That doesn't not mean that you should avoid asphalt shingles. Lighter shingle colors for large roofs with South facing sides are a good way, higher end shingles have UV coatings to help deflect sun for a time. That being said 20,30 and 40 years is a long time to have UV coating stand up to something as powerful as the sun. Proper ventilation will definitely help keep your roof from sweltering. Solar shingles or solar panels are a great idea on the South facing side. If you are not ready to think about a solar panel yet, it would be a good idea to asking the company you have trusted to replace your shingles, if they have solar readiness packages for future solar panels. Next regular roof inspections to monitor aging and sun damage is a great idea as well.


Since we are not getting into actual brand specifics, there are a few variations in the different types of asphalt roof materials and shingles. Some shingles are favorable in cooler temperature installations, some in warm weather installs. if you are looking for added security for your home, weather-proofing as well as an added selling bonus in the event of selling your home then Architectural is the way to go. They offer a 30-40 year limited warranty with transferability to homeowners. As well as an upgraded 50 year limited warranty offered by the shingle manufacturer to preferred asphalt roof installers. Most warranties need to be transferred with a written notice through the manufacturer so it is great to ask the question of your roofer, if they deal with warranty claims, what that process entails and what to expect when dealing with a certain brand. Some shingle manufacturers are not favorable to deal with, and transportation and installer error can void you of the very thing that you paid to ensure. You also don't go up on your roof and cause damage and indicators that could give the manufacturer's investigator or worse your insurance company's adjuster the right to say you no longer qualify. It is great to know what your are buying, and ensure your are covered from the day of install and on. 

Special Consideration

One consideration when selecting a shingle is to find out where they are manufactured, the availability and quality is greatly affected by regions for homeowners here in Edmonton. One reason is because those shingles manufactured across the boarder have to get to your home, that will increase price due to transportation. Also transporting shingles can cause a great deal of damage to the shingles so the integrity of the shingle can be compromised by the time it reaches your roof deck. Of course manufacturers protect their product, but they can not predict delays, weather or road conditions, or transportation negligence. It truly is a good practice to by local, a local manufacturer, manufactures shingles for your specific climate, and weather patterns. 


Whether you do it yourself or hire someone it is great to do research before you hire a roof company you can trust. Many reputable roofing companies in Edmonton offer a workmanship guarantee so you want to choose one who is going to do a great job and if you have issues you feel comfortable working with them over the span of that contractual agreement. Do your due diligence in hiring and it will save you in the long run. Get to know the outside exterior of your home like you know the interior. Reach out to some companies with good online presence, and see what they are willing to do to win your business, it may be a glimpse into what they are willing to do to keep your business.